It has been a very eventful month. I’ve met someone. I’m dating. And I’m not the guilt-ridden ball of grief that I was told some become in similar situations. I have some issues, granted, that are based in the fact that I was absolutely exclusive to Kim since the day we met over 33 years ago, but I’m sure those will resolve over time.
My new friend is also a widow, and, as was the woman who threw me an emotional rope in February (for which I will always remain grateful), connected to my high school, of all things. She is not a Borgess alumnus, but her late husband was a year ahead of me there. It is interesting how small the world can be, but also how strange the turn of events can sometimes be. I’m not a big “alumni” kind of guy. I value the friendships and experiences garnered at the schools I attended, but I view them (the schools) more as services that I paid for and made use of rather than something critical to my existence and formation. I’m not one to go to reunions, for instance. Though I have done so once or twice, I’m not big on donating to the schools and universities I’ve attended (particularly since the universities are so bloated and overpriced these days – why do they need donations?). Maybe someone upstairs is trying to change that attitude by bringing me relief from high school? Twice? I’ll have to ponder that a bit.
Anyway, we met for dinner a few weeks back, and spent literally hours talking, much to the chagrin of the waitress. A few days later, she messaged me to go for a walk on a nature trail. We had fun, only became mildly lost on the trails, and had a very long conversation about our losses and our grief – and our healing – on a picturesque footbridge over a beautiful running river while watching a couple of ducks manage their ducklings in the flow. We went out afterward for a bite to eat, and the waiter left us to ourselves because, since we were talking so intently to each other, he felt we had a lot of catching up to do. We’ve been out a few times since, and really enjoy each others’ company.
It’s very odd to both of us how at ease we are in each others’ company; how easily we can talk with each other about pretty much absolutely everything. And, we’re committed to the sentiment that the past is written and cannot be changed; the future is not within our control, so we will live in the moment. For someone whose career depended on planning things in minute detail: it’s refreshing and liberating.
So, what is the “so what?” of this? Things change and improve. Your emotions, your attitudes, your situation – they all change and improve. Have patience with yourself as you are “reborn” after your loss; as you build emotional strength and confidence in your worth as an individual. It is a process that differs in length and intensity for each of us – but it is a most necessary process. Bear with it. Work inside it. Find your strength again.
And, I guess, another “so what” is this: don’t be afraid to reach out to someone. I had been contemplating asking my new friend to meet me for well over a month before I finally did; I would sit down and type out an invitation in facebook messenger, only to delete it. I finally sent that invitation, and it was very much worth the emotional risk and effort. And the worst case? The worst alternative reality was simply one in which she had said “no.” Not a big gamble – when you are ready, please take it. And may you find what I have in the reaching out…